CHILDREN + YOUNG PEOPLE

Appointing an individual counsellor vs. working with a counselling services provider


Contracting with a self-employed counsellor can offer Secondary schools benefits like local knowledge or a reduced per-session fee for counselling, group work or teacher training. This can be a solution for some schools but it is important to consider a couple of key issues that make working with a counselling services provider like The Spark more effective.

Specifically, this can be in terms of the issues of risk management and counsellor supervision.

Supervision of counsellors


Supervision is where a counsellor uses the expertise of a specially trained Clinical Supervisor to review and monitor the way they work. This ensures professional and ethical standards are maintained and personal development is ongoing which safeguards the provision of quality therapeutic insights for every client.

Supervision is most effective when it is challenging, supportive and insightful. In larger organisations like The Spark, supervision is handled in-house providing a rigorous process. This is usually set out in a service-level agreement between the school and counselling provider, offering peace-of-mind that they are working to an agreed model of delivery and quality standards.

counselling services provider offers greater scrutiny and superivison of each individual counsellor in school

Supervision supports risk management in youth counselling.

Such transparency can be lacking with individual counsellors, particularly in terms of what they choose to bring to supervision, how often and from whom they are receiving supervision.

Risk management


All sorts of issues can emerge during counselling and even the most experienced youth counsellor is unlikely to have ‘heard it all’ during their career. Consequently, this raises the question of where the counsellor goes with that issue to seek advice, insight and guidance. In counselling, this is known as ‘holding risk’.

Within larger counselling organisations a team of clinical experts are available to support each counsellor. This helps counsellors to appropriately identify levels of risk and ensure that they are always working within their areas of competence with each child.

the benefits of a counselling services provider for your Secondary school

Individual counsellors find it very difficult to replicate such a robust approach to risk management. Similarly, this can be the case for organisations that have only recently added counselling or therapeutic services to their core services. The Scottish Government’s commitment to every Secondary school having access to a counsellor has, for example, resulted in a number of organisation with little or no prior experience in youth counselling setting up as ‘school counsellors’.


The Spark is committed to helping schools provide the right learning environment for every pupil. By working in partnership and embedding experienced and accredited youth counsellors in each school we are helping Scotland’s young people achieve their potential.

To find out more about The Spark’s approach to mental and emotional wellbeing support for Secondary schools, visit the Children and Young People section of our website.